Feb. 3, 2009
WOODSTOCK (CNB) - The provincial government is working with Barrett Xplore Inc. to ensure that the remaining 10 per cent of households and businesses in New Brunswick without high-speed Internet access will have it by July 2010. Premier Shawn Graham and Business New Brunswick Minister Greg Byrne made the announcement today.
"We understand that infrastructure is more than just roads and water," said Graham. "We also need to build up communications infrastructure. Providing high-speed Internet access to everyone in New Brunswick is critical to moving this province toward our goal of self-sufficiency."
The government is providing up to $13 million toward the cost of building the infrastructure necessary to deliver high-speed Internet access to remaining households and companies within 18 months. This investment will help create an estimated 200 jobs.
"We believe that high-speed Internet access can help rural communities be more viable in the future," said Byrne. "It can help small businesses be more profitable; allow people to work from home; and help people upgrade their career credentials through online learning. Providing this access is essential to helping rural New Brunswick compete in the global economy."
About 90 per cent of the province already has access to high-speed Internet, thanks in part to a $44.6 million federal-provincial infrastructure program created in 2003. This newest investment will extend Internet service to an estimated 39,000 dwellings, mostly located in rural and low-density population areas.
The government is helping to offset the cost because it is not economically viable for the private sector to cover all of the expenses to extend Internet service to sparsely populated areas.
"We are excited to be part of the government's mission to bridge the digital divide for rural New Brunswick," said Ed Barrett, chairman of Barrett Xplore Inc. "Connecting people in rural communities with high-speed access opens up a world of possibilities and allows them to participate fully in the global economy. It also provides quick and easy access to government, educational and health services."
Barrett Xplore Inc., a Woodstock-based Internet service-provider, will provide all New Brunswickers with access to high-speed Internet through its dual technology solution - fixed wireless and satellite. Fixed wireless will be the primary technology offered, with satellite Internet service offered in the most challenging areas to reach. Both of these technologies will provide residents with fast and affordable service.
The government's investment ensures new broadband customers will pay $99 for professional installation, regardless of where they live or the type of technology offered. Monthly service fees will be set according to the type of technology offered. These fees will include the rental cost of equipment without contract term requirements.
"We are confident that providing access to high-speed Internet to 100 per cent of New Brunswick will solidify our reputation as a technology leader in Canada," Byrne said. "Bringing broadband access to every New Brunswicker will encourage widespread use of this technology as a tool for economic development, ensuring that rural communities can remain the place to be for business success."
MEDIA CONTACTS: Deborah Nobes, communications, Business New Brunswick, 506-444-3323, e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org; Darlene Doucet, The Bristol Group (Barrett Xplore Inc.), 506-381-1294, e-mail, email@example.com.